Cincinnati Reds: Luis Castillo can’t keep surrendering home runs

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 06: Luis Castillo #58 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a pitch against the San Diego Padres at Great American Ball Park on September 6, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 06: Luis Castillo #58 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a pitch against the San Diego Padres at Great American Ball Park on September 6, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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Luis Castillo could be the best pitcher on the Cincinnati Reds staff. But before he can reach that potential, he must keep the ball in the ballpark.

Luis Castillo has been among the NL-leaders in home runs allowed all season. If Castillo wants to be the No. 1 starting pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds, he has to keep the ball in the ballpark.

Castillo surrendered a career-high three home runs last night to the San Diego Padres. In the top of the third inning, rookie catcher Francisco Mejia hit his first of two homers on the night. Mejia sent a 1-0 fastball over the opposite field wall in left-center to put the Padres on the board early.

Unfortunately for Castillo, Mejia wasn’t done. After Hunter Renfroe sent a deep fly out of Great American Ball Park in the fourth inning, Mejia took a 97-MPH fastball on the inner-half of the plate over the right-field wall. With runners on first and second, that long ball gave the Padres, who were already up 2-0 a 5 run lead after 4 innings.

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Castillo leads the team in home runs allowed, and that’s saying something. Castillo has now given up 27 homers in 28 starts this season. Now, before you bring up the defense of Great American “Small” Park, more than half of home runs Castillo has surrendered have been while pitching on the road.

Luis Castillo has amazing stuff. His fastball touches the upper-90’s, he has a solid breaking pitch, and his changeup has rewarded him with a ridiculous amount of strikeouts this season. Castillo has the makings to be a No. 1 starter in the Cincinnati Reds rotation. If he learns how to keep the ball in the ballpark, he’ll be one of the most dangerous pitchers in the National League.

Even some of the best pitchers in the league give up home runs. Oddly enough, in 2016, during Max Scherzer’s Cy Young Award-winning, he led the league in home runs allowed. He did, however, also lead the National League in starts, innings pitched, and strikeouts.

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So, while Castillo has played in just one less game than Scherzer this season, he has pitched 45 fewer innings, faced 125 fewer batters, and struck out 111 fewer opposing hitters. If Castillo wants to reach the elite level on which Max Scherzer stands, he needs to extend his time in games. That starts with limiting home runs.